Welcome back to What We’re Drinking, wherein The Growler editorial staff look back on recent remarkable beverages. What are you drinking, Growler Nation? Let us know on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
Brian Kaufenberg, Editor-in-Chief
■ Summit Oktoberfest
It’s my favorite season of the year: Oktoberfest. As I search for a beer to fill (and refill) my stein with during the festivities later this month, I’m certainly going to reach for Summit’s version of the classic märzen style. With a strong, rich malt character that is bready and toasty, this beer is medium-bodied with a slightly creamy texture and a warm finish that gently reminds you of its 7.1% ABV. Malt is expertly balanced with German noble hops leaving a clean, crisp finish that embodies early autumn.
■ Lupulin Whiskey Nuts Brown Ale
■ Calvados Pierre Huet XO
■ Number 12 Black Currant Dry
■ Millstream Oktoberfest
Lauren Sauer, Editorial Assistant
■ Hoch Organic Honeycrisp Brut
Sure, you could travel all the way to France to find some good brut. But if you’re short on time and money (like many of us), you could also get one made right here in Minnesota. Hoch Orchard in La Crescent is producing some seriously good ciders made from their 50-plus certified-organic apples, all grown with a focus on sustainability and biodiversity. This carbonated Honeycrisp Brut is the perfect marriage of sweetness and pleasant acidity to keep it balanced. It finishes off-dry with a touch of lingering sweetness from the Honeycrisp, giving it a complex profile akin to a French brut, with just a touch of Minnesota.
■ Firestone Walker Luponic Distortion
■ Sweetland Northern Spy
■ Modist Foeder Sour #1
■ Bald Man Honey Hush Kölsch
James Norton, Food Editor
■ Etienne Dupont 2016 Cidre Bouche Brut De Normandie
If you’ve never before tried cider from Normandy—one of the world’s great cider regions—then: A) fix that problem at once, and B) start with this bottle. Don’t get hung up on the “brut” part of the label—far from being dry and minimalist, this cider leads with lush sweetness balanced by a whisper of yeast and apple-driven tartness. There’s nothing syrupy or one-note about this bottle—it has depth and restraint, and is compelling either paired with food or on its own.
■ Fair State Keller Kazbek Unfiltered Pilsner
■ Lake Superior Kayak Kölsch
■ Russian River Brewing Company Consecration
■ Flying Dutchman Spirits Sailor’s Rantsoen Rum
John Garland, Deputy Editor
■ Maiden Rock Crabby Cider
This Stockholm, Wisconsin, cidery was among the real forerunners of orchard-based cider in the Upper Midwest, and their Crabby Cider is a fine example of a style that shows off the fruit’s natural sweetness in a way that’s still balanced and inviting. The aroma is musty fruit layered with some yeast character. The apple flavor on the sip registers on the green, Granny Smith end of things—the actual variety in play are Dolgo Crabapples, a favorite of Upper Midwest cideries. Good initial sweetness (it’s called “semi-sweet” on the label) gives way to tons of lively acidity so things don’t get too cloying (this cider is not, say, Angry Orchard–sweet). A puckery finish invites an immediate return. Spectacularly well-rounded.
■ Pryes Main Squeeze
■ Yaguara Branca Cachaça
■ Carlos Creek Winery Frontenac Gris
■ J. Carver Distillery Barrel Gin